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Shivani suspect beats hunters to court
- Fugitive IPS officer surrenders, alleges frame-up by Delhi police

Chandigarh, Sept. 27: Shivani murder accused Ravi Kant Sharma surrendered in Ambala today, bringing an end to the hottest police chase in recent memory.

Sharma, a senior Haryana IPS officer now under suspension, turned himself in at the court of Ambala chief judicial magistrate Sarita Gupta late in the afternoon.

In a hand-written statement released to the media by his wife Madhu, Sharma said the “case is a frame-up against me for the reasons fully known to Delhi police”.

In a blue checked shirt and black trousers, the officer arrived at the court with his lawyers, Ravi Sharma, Gyan Grewal and Jagdev Saini. He has been sent to Ambala Central Jail in judicial custody till October 5.

The accused’s mother, wife Madhu and daughters Komal and Pragati were present when he surrendered. “I am happy that he adopted legal recourse and surrendered. Now we will fight a long legal battle,” Madhu said.

“I apprehend that Delhi police will force him to own up as an accused in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case,” she said. “But when the trial commences, we will reveal who all were involved.”

Shivani Bhatnagar was found murdered in her Navkunj Apartment flat in Delhi on January 23, 1999. But the case picked up momentum only in late July this year and Sharma was named prime accused. Delhi police have been searching for him since August.

In his application, Sharma’s lawyers said the allegation of murder in the FIR registered against him by Delhi police was false and “blind”. Arguing that the case against him was “politically motivated” and “deliberate”, the lawyers said they feared he would be tortured by Delhi police if handed over to them. “I apprehend that Delhi police will torture him mentally and physically,” Madhu said, arguing there was no justification for handing him over to the police in the capital.

Accepting their arguments, the magistrate directed Ambala SSP Manoj Yadav to inform Delhi police about the surrender. Yadav said a Delhi police team is expected in Ambala “any moment” to apply for a production warrant and take Sharma to the capital for questioning.

In another application to the court, Sharma’s lawyers requested that he be given “special status in jail”.

Pressure had been mounting on Sharma after the police began attaching his properties in various parts of the country. Three flats in Gurgaon, a house in Mussoorie and land in Uttar Pradesh were attached.

On September 24, Delhi police filed a caveat in Supreme Court to pre-empt Sharma from obtaining ex-parte anticipatory bail.

Speaking to newspersons in court, Sharma declined to comment on his wife’s allegations against Union minister Pramod Mahajan.

Madhu said on phone that she had full respect for the judiciary and that justice would be done. “My husband does not deserve the treatment he has been meted out. The truth will come out,” she said.

Ambala police sources said it was likely that Sharma had been hiding in his hometown Shahbad in Kurukshetra since August, when Delhi police launched the manhunt against him.

“He has remained either in Delhi or in close proximity of the capital all the while when police teams were raiding places in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh,” a senior Haryana police officer said.

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